BRITISH SHORT/LONG HAIR
The British Shorthair is a study in roundness. He has a large round head, round eyes and rounded paws. Even his tail has a rounded tip. He was once known as the British Blue because he came only in that color, but these days his short, plush coat comes in many different colors and patterns. There is also a longhaired variety, called the British Longhair. Except for his coat resulting from Persian in the background, the British Longhair is the same as the British Shorthair.
A British Shorthair is a dignified, intelligent and affectionate companion. He’s not generally a lap cat, but he will want to be at your side on the sofa or at least nearby. Females tend to have a serious demeanor, while males are more happy-go-lucky. These laidback cats can get along well with dogs and are calm around children, but most don’t enjoy being hauled around. Teach children to treat them with respect and pet and play with them on the floor if that is their preference.
The British Shorthair is big, but he shouldn’t be fat. Watch his food intake to make sure he doesn’t become obese. Encourage him to chase fishing-pole toys or peacock feathers for exercise.
Brush or comb the British Shorthair’s coat two or three times a week to keep loose hair at a minimum. You’ll need to brush him more often in the spring when he sheds his winter coat. Trim the nails as needed and keep his ears clean.
The British Shorthair is well suited to any home with people who will love him. Keep him indoors to protect him from cars, diseases spread by other cats and attacks from other animals.
The Cheshire Cat was undoubtedly a British Shorthair. These smiling cats enjoy attention, are normally quiet, but occasionally have bursts of crazed activity before changing back into your affectionate, dignified friend. They get along with children and cat-friendly dogs.
British Shorthairs are calm and undemanding. Males are big, easy lugs with a happy-go-lucky nature but a natural air of command. Females are more serious. Both want only to be with their people, not necessarily in a lap or being carried around, but next to them or in the same room with them. One thing Most Brits are not, however, is lap cats. They’d much rather sit beside you, or curl up at your feet, than cuddle on your lap. British Shorthairs dislike being picked up, and tolerate it with legs stiffly stretched out to push you away. They detest being kissed, too, but head presses are acceptable, and they accept petting with great enthusiasm and mighty purrs of appreciation. If you’re not home, they are satisfied to entertain themselves until you return. This is not a very active cat. You won’t find him on top of the refrigerator but instead solidly on the floor. He is smart and will enjoy having toys to play with, especially if they are interactive.
He might be laidback, but the British Shorthair is very smart. Challenge his brain and keep him interested in life by teaching him tricks and providing him with puzzle toys that will reward him with treats when he learns how to manipulate them.
Always choose a kitten from a breeder who raises litters in the home and handles them from an early age. Be sure to ask about the parents to ensure that they have nice temperaments.
BRITISH SHORT HAIR HISTORY
One of England’s oldest cat breeds, the British Shorthair actually has Roman roots. It seems that when the Roman forces invaded England during their period of empire expansion, they brought along cats to protect their food supplies from rodents. The cats colonized the area and were a common street cat for centuries. In the late 1800’s, a British man named Harrison Wier is credited with becoming the first cat breeder. He is responsible for domesticating the common British street cat and through a breeding program and selective crossbreeding, created the cat we know today as the British Shorthair. The breed nearly ceased to exist during the hard economic times of World War II. Post-war, however, the remaining bloodlines were crossed with other breeds including the Domestic Shorthair, Russian Blue, and Persian breeds to preserve their existence.
The first breed registry to recognize the British Shorthair was the American Cat Association in 1967. Other organizations followed suit including the International Cat Association in 1979 and the Cat Fanciers Association in 1980.
BRITISH SHORT HAIR / LONG HAIR CARE
While being sociable and pleasant, these cats are easy keepers. The British Shorthair is not overly demanding when it comes to grooming or attention, and they’re not a very vocal breed. The breed features dense, plush short hair—with more hair per square inch than any other cat breed. Your cat will benefit from brushing several times a week to remove loose hairs and dander, while preventing hairballs. In spring, these cats will lose more fur as they shed their winter coat, so you may need to brush them more frequently during this time period.
Most people find that the British Shorthair matures from a playful kitten into a dignified yet sociable adult cat. Don’t expect them to grow to full-size overnight, though. The British Shorthair is slow to mature; on average, these cats reach full-size by about the age of three, but some don’t fully mature until the age of five. These cats aren’t likely to spring into your lap and they don’t particularly like to be held or carried, but they often do enjoy the company of their human family members and will often spend time playing or napping the same room.
British Shorthairs have relatively low energy needs and are known to be vertically challenged—they don’t have a reputation for jumping onto counters or other high perches. In fact, this tendency toward inactivity means it’s a good idea to regularly engage your cat in play for his own health and mental stimulation. However, their ability to be content on their own also means that they can tolerate being left home alone for an extended period of time without suffering from separation anxiety.
If you have children or other pets in the home, these cats are likely to be tolerant and accepting and friendly—as long as they can have their personal space. Teach children not to forcibly hold or carry your cat, and don’t let other pets harass this cat that likes its dignity.
It’s interesting to note that the Cheshire Cat of Alice in Wonderland was based on the British Shorthair. The characteristic grin and wise way of the character are trademarks of this breed.
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